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Introduction to Schemes and Their Application in the Classroom Piaget believed that children begin life with a small,

limited repertoire of patterns of behavior or thinking, or schemes. (Slavin 2012). As a child grows up, they are faced with new objects, ideas and circumstances. At first, the child just tries to fit everything into the simple schemes that it already possesses. (Slavin 2012). However, when it turns out that the object/idea/circumstance does not fit perfectly into a pre-existing scheme, the child has two options. (Slavin 2012). On the one hand, he or she could assimilate the new object into a preexisting scheme, thereby expanding its scope and deepening its application, slightly. (Slavin 2012). However, if the discord between the present situation and the existing scheme is too great, the student is forced to accommodate the new situation/object/idea into a brand new scheme. (Slavin 2012). By these two processes, students expand and sophisticate their toolbox of schemes. A teaching application would be to require a teacher to approach each student as an individual with his or her personal sets of schemes. Additionally, to effectively teach each student, it is necessary to define what the parameters of those schemes are, and how best to teach the student the new material. If the new material is an application of a concept which the student has already mastered, then this example will be assimilated into that existing scheme. However, if the student has a misconception, or extremely limited understanding of the underlying principle, then it will be necessary for him to accommodate this new information in a new (or highly modified existing) scheme. At first blush, this would seem to imply that a teacher should behave differently based on how wrong a childs scheme is. That is to say, if a student has a good understanding, then the

PRACTICAL TEACHING TIPS FROM PIAGET teacher should reinforce it with examples which would be assimilated into the scheme. On the other hand, the teacher would have a responsibility to entirely uproot and disprove a scheme which is far off-base and force the student to learn the correct answer through accommodation. However, with an eye towards Piagets semiclinical interview and with the help of David Elkinds perspective, we find that these two forms really converge. There is an inborn prejudice on the part of adults to correct children and tell them the right answer. However, as Elkind points out, according to Piaget certain answers can be accepted as valid for the child, although it may not be correct from an adults point of view. (p. 195 1972). This would suggest that there are no answers which are so misguided that they would need to be actively accommodated. Similarly, Piagets theory of development suggests that a Constructivist theory of learning would be most effective for students. (Slavin 2012). This method suggests that learners must individually discover and transform complex information, checking new information against old rules and revising rules when they no longer work. (Slavin p. 218 2012). When combining Piagets idea about right answers, with the emphasis on personal discovery through constructivist learning, we are left with a unique conclusion about how a teacher should present material. Instead of seeing what the students current schemes are, and adjusting a lesson plan around it, and trying to actively alter ita teacher should analyze the schemes that a student already possesses and then by questioning seek to understand how he came to the idea. Such questioning may lead the child to discover for himself that he is mistaken. (Elkind p. 195 1972). A teachers job is to present facts, information and questions which will guide the learner in his or her own learning. However, it would be less effective to merely preach from the pulpit what the correct answers should be.

PRACTICAL TEACHING TIPS FROM PIAGET Piaget in a Chumash Class Among the subjects which I teach this seems most relevant to Chumash. All too often students come in with incomplete ideas, or schemes, about the characters and stories in Chumash. When a student asks something about the giving of the Torah, while we are discussing Kriyat Yam Suf, it reveals a deep flaw in their model of the chronology. However, in lieu of merely correcting the student, if he is questioned further about his assumption and then directed to the psukim which tell when the Jewish people came to Midbar Sinai, they can form their own conclusion and modify their own scheme. Additionally, when students enter Junior High, their knowledge of Sefer Bereishit is a disorganized combination of what they recall from lower grades, medrashim they heard from their shul rabbi and TV shows and movies they have watched. Here too, when a student has a question based on a false premise, the most powerful correction would be a sincere question, and provision of sources. By pursuing the students thought process more deeply and pointing him towards the primary sources, the learner will draw his own conclusions and help expand his repertoire of accurate, deep schemes. On the other hand, if a teacher preaches to a student, their correction would merely become another incomplete idea, which would be competing with the Medrashim, TV and the like.

PRACTICAL TEACHING TIPS FROM PIAGET References Elkind, D. (1972). What does Piaget say to the teacher. Todays Education, November ed. (NEA Journal), p. 47-48. Slavin, R.E. (2012). Educational psychology: Theory and practice (10th ed.). Boston: Pearson